In the UK we like our monsters. For years child-killer Myra Hindley was our favourite. Every bit of tittle-tattle about her life behind bars, whether true or invented, would make the headlines of the tabloid newspapers. She died in 2002, and for a year we had to make do with Rose West, wife of serial killer Fred West. In 2003 Ian Huntley was convicted of murdering 2 schoolchildren, and since then we have again had a proper monster to gloat over. His ex-girlfriend Maxine Carr has also been dragged in as a subsidiary monster. She served a couple of years for covering-up for him, as many women would probably have done. She now has a new identity, but the press clearly know where she is. The headlines a few months ago were that she is pregnant, and what right does she have to bear children when the parents of the children Huntley killed no longer have theirs? Why should she get state benefits? Etc.
We may as well put these people in cages for all to see, for that is the effect of locking them up for life. But perversely, it seems to be a psychological necessity for the mob (and I won’t pretend not to read the headlines myself.) Many of us could not survive psychologically if we did not have somewhere ‘out there’ to put our shadows. That way we can continue to feel good about ourselves, because evil is safely somewhere over there. Our quantum of violence is the same. Just as the Romans needed their deadly games, and not so long ago we had public hangings, so too we now need our violent films and computer games.
I think these things may well be necessary for the stability of society, but they are also a reminder of how thin the veneer is, how quickly such forces escalate in times of insecurity and perceived threat.
The process of personal transformation often begins with projection, then recognition that this is happening, and finally acknowledgement and integration of the contents of our own psyche. So these monsters can serve a transformational purpose for the individual. We first need to get away from the gloating, from the enjoyment of how awful and ‘other’ these people are. This gloating can actually take us away from what they actually did, which is usually pretty awful, as well as the awareness that they are also ordinary people, that they are in many ways like ourselves, with certain very common tendencies taken to an extreme. In this way the projection gets withdrawn, and we are left facing ourselves. And it’s not a matter of finally owning up to how ‘bad’ we are – that’s just Christian – but of a broadening and enrichment of the personality. It’s better than you think!
In the last few days a new monster has appeared, Joseph Fritzl of Amstetten in Austria. People are genuinely horrified at what this man has done, you don’t even want to think about it. He abducted his 18 year old daughter 24 years ago and since then has kept her confined in underground rooms. He has had 7 children by her, none of whom got to see outside of the cellar for their first few years of life, until he took them away from their mother and fostered them upstairs. And the process of monstrification has also begun: ‘The beast in his lair’, ‘House of Horror Dad’ scream the tabloids. In the process what he has done becomes easier to bear, as it no longer has anything to do with us.
The President of Austria has gone on a PR offensive to restore the reputation of the country. Fair enough, but there is something about Austria and the abduction of young women. A couple of years ago there was the case of Natascha Kampusch, who was held captive for 8 years, from the ages of 10 to 18. And since 1996 there have been 2 other very public cases of girls being abducted. One was found in a coffin, the other in a closet. Natascha Kampusch was on the news last night saying these abductions had to do with the nature of Austrian society, and the way women were suppressed under National Socialism during World War II. The astrology of Austria (see later) confirms that it is indeed in the national character, but takes it back further than the War.
The classic abduction myth is that of Pluto and Persephone. Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, abducted the young virgin to his lair, and married/raped her. Her mother Ceres, a nature goddess, was distraught and hunted for her. Eventually the gods intervened and returned Persephone to her mother, but unfortunately she had eaten that fateful fruit of love, the pomegranate, whilst in the arms of Pluto, and was condemned to periodically return. This is the origin of the seasons: the winter is when she is in the Underworld, and her mother Ceres grieves, and the summer is when she is back on the earth, and her mother rejoices. Unpleasant as it has been, the abduction was also a rite of passage for Persephone, for she is now a woman, and it is this also for which her mother grieves.
Since Ceres promotion to the status of dwarf planet in Aug 2006 (and Pluto’s demotion to that status), this myth has had increased astrological relevance. Synchronistically, the case of Natasha Kampusch arose at the time, and you can read a good analysis involving Pluto and Ceres at World-of-Wisdom.
I’ll come to this myth in the case of Joseph Fritzl and his daughter in a moment. But first of all, Austria herself. There is some confusion about her exact ‘birth’, but we do know it was on 12th or 13th November 1918. And on those 2 days there was a wide opposition between Pluto and Ceres. So this myth is in the country’s chart, which is another way of putting what Natascha Kampusch said.
Why it should be there, I do not know. It is one of those strange things, one of those fates that you find in the charts of people or countries for no apparent reason. It doesn’t have to manifest literally, and often these things don’t, but sometimes they do.
The Moirae, or Fates
The theme of abduction has also applied to the country as a whole. On 12 March 1938, during a Ceres-Pluto trine, Austria was annexed by Germany. The trine expresses the ease, even the willingness, with which the abduction occurred. In April 1945, during the more dynamic square from Pluto to Ceres, Austria seceded from the Third Reich. She regained her full independence (from the occupying powers) in May 1955, during an inconjunction from Pluto to Ceres.
So, with the country as a whole being so sensitive to its Pluto-Ceres aspect, it is no surprise that it keeps finding ways of manifesting. Which doesn’t make the whole thing any less strange.
Joseph Fritzl was born on 9th April 1935. He has a tight Pluto-Ceres conjunction, square to his Sun in Aries, and making a wide t-square with Mars in Libra. Perfect astrology for an abductor. On the day of the abduction, 24/8/84, the Moon conjoined his Pluto-Ceres, activating it. On the day of his daughter’s escape, 26/4/8, Mars conjoined his Pluto-Ceres, attacking and destroying Fritzl the abductor.
Elisabeth Fritzl, his daughter, was born on 8 April 1966. When she was abducted, she had recently finished a Ceres Return, as well as Ceres trining her natal Pluto. When she escaped, Ceres was about to square her natal Pluto.
So it’s all there, both in the country and in these citizens, this myth of abduction that they are strangely fated to live out. These sort of events take you out of modern astrology as psychological explanation, at which we are so adept these days, and back to astrology as descriptive of our fate, over which we have no control. There are ways in which the course of our life, for better or for worse, is already written in the heavens.
A bit more on Elisabeth Fritzl’s chart. She has Sun conjunct Mars in Aries: a violent father. And Moon conjunct Neptune: loss of womanhood. So the psychological description is there as well, running alongside her fate.
And I’d see the fate in her chart as the unaspected, and very tight, Uranus-Pluto conjunction. This reminds me of the classic case of Hitler’s chart, who had an unaspected Neptune-Pluto conjunction. An unaspected planet can describe a side of our personality that has a life of its own. When it is an outer planet, and particularly something as powerful as a conjunction of outer planets, we are not talking about a side of the personality: we are talking about a vulnerability to the forces of the collective unconscious in their primitive form. In the case of Hitler, this mild-mannered man would turn into someone completely different when faced with a collective situation, he would become a medium for its desires and frustrations, but expressed in a very primitive way, because of its lack of connection with the personal planets.
And the same applies to Elisabeth Fritzl. Her unaspected Uranus-Pluto makes her very vulnerable to the human mind at its most atavistic and primitive. She was only 18 when she was abducted (and 11 when her father began abusing her), and there’s no way she can be said to be at all responsible for what happened. And yet her astrology is also saying that at a deeply unconscious level something else was going on. She was the person to whom this happened, and not one of her siblings. It was her Uranus-Pluto, which is HERS. What happened on one level looks like fate, but there is also a sense in which a side of her is involved, which as an astrologer you would expect, but which does not mean she was responsible for it in the usual sense of the word. This is a difficult and sensitive area, which Liz Greene goes into in ‘The Astrological Pluto’ in her book ‘The Astrology of Fate’.
But if she ever recovers from what she has been through, Elisabeth Fritzl will need to find a way of approaching her Uranus-Pluto, or it will continue to find ways of destroying her. She has Sun conjunct Mars in Aries, so she is a fighter.